The West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) and the National Peace Council (NPC) have launched a National Election Response Group (NERG) to monitor and promote violence-free elections.

The Group made up of civil society organisations, political parties, non-governmental organisations, development partners, institutions and eminent persons would among other functions set up a situational room to monitor and address violent threats in the upcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

The Executive Director of WANEP, Dr Chukwuemeka Eze in a speech read on his behalf, said through the years, West Africa had witnessed new threat vectors and non-conventional intersectionality associated with electoral processes and undermined democratic processes in the region.

Additionally, election-related violence has fractured communities and caused significant infrastructural damage and loss of lives.

At the core of the challenges, he said was the upward trajectory of mistrust among political actors, between institutions and between citizens and the State which had been fuelled by both realities and perceptions of a deepening culture of politicisation and lack of transparency.

The Governing Board Chair of NPC, Dr Ernest Adu Gyamfi said the Global Peace Index since 2019 had ranked Ghana as the most peaceful country in the West Africa sub-region except in 2023 when the country lost that position to Sierra Leone.

“This should remind all of us of the need to jealously guard the peace and our peaceful coexistence in the upcoming general elections,” he said.

He said NERG would hold working sessions to analyse the early warning reports that would be submitted to it by WANEP-Ghana based on the data received from monitors.

Dr Gyamfi implored the political parties to express their opinions on national issues with decorum, while providing practical solutions to the many challenges that confronted them and abstain from hate speech as well as tribal politics.

On his part, the Deputy Chairperson of Operations at the Electoral Commission (EC), Samuel Tettey said the EC was committed to its principle of transparency, integrity and fairness as part of efforts to mitigate electoral violence.

The EC, he said, was naturally inclined to support any initiative that created an enabling environment for electoral and political progress.

It, therefore, commended WANEP, NPC, EU and other partners for the election violence monitoring analysis and mitigation project.

A representative of ECOWAS, Ebenezer Ofosu Asiedu commended the organisers for advocating the tenets of participatory democracy with the sole objective of ensuring the maintenance of peace and stability in Ghana and the region at large.

The event, he said, was timely as it took place at the time when the peace of West Africa was being put to a test.

“We are all aware of how elections when not managed well lead to disputes. The region recently witnessed coups and attempted coups, resulting from unresolved disagreements from elections. So, elections organisations have been a source of concern.

“Therefore, we see the meeting as appropriate and timely and to remind us of the need to keep vigilance and protect the peace and stability of the nation,” he added.

The WANEP Regional Coordinator, Research and Capacity Building, Dr Festus Kofi Aubyn said as part of WANEP’s Electoral Violence Monitoring, Analysis and Mitigation project, WANEP had categorised all 275 constituencies into hotspots over those that are high risk, risk and low risk.

Additionally, the Minister for the Interior, Henry Quartey, in a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Minister, Madam Naana Eyiah Quansah, said periodic elections had become a central part of democracy.

Concerns raised against the EC over the registration of new voters, violence arising from voter registrations, industrial actions and intemperate language on traditional and new media were issues that needed redress with possible avenues, he said.

He called on the private sector and the international community to stand with them in the noble task of ensuring peace and human security.

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